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Reader Comments: D3x vs D800

Bert K writes:

Based on all that I have read, the D800 is a superior product designed to be most successful when used in a precise and structured manner. Part of this precise and structured manner also occurred with me when I upgraded from the D3 to the D3X.

In my particular shooting, I use the D3X primarily handheld in capturing floral, travel, and landscapes. For personal reasons, a tripod is usually not part of my travel. I do, however, have a large Gitzo with an Arca Swiss ball head. My standard print size is 20” x 30” (sometimes out of a cropped section). With respect to lenses; my go to lenses are the 50mm 1.4 AFS (usually at f8+ and the 135mm f2 DC at f5.6+). The 24mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 are in the bag also. In most instances, I keep the D3x at ISO 400.

So, where I am heading is that it appears that when you factor in the handholding issues (from smaller photo sites) and diffraction (also from smaller photo sites) of the D800, the D3X still remains a viable instrument for producing large images (at least for my particular needs). Granted, at high ISO’s the D3X is not in the running.

I appreciate and understand your efforts in demonstrating the qualities of the D800 for your subscribers. However, it would be appreciated if some time could be spent comparing the D800 and the D3X for those shooters who do not have the luxury of bolting the body to a tripod and must rely on hand holding and high f-stops in the field. Let’s take the laboratory out into the field.

DIGLLOYD: “superior” to whom for what purpose? Which I think is the point of the message. The D3x is a very fine camera. It’s not like one needs to rush out and sell the D3x just because the D800 has come along. In fact, I prefer most of the D3x ergonomics, though not all aspects, and I certainly appreciate its build quality. My D3x is for sale, but that’s for reasons of my own, not because it is an inadequate camera (well, for my lens testing, it *is* inadequate compared to a D800E, but that’s peculiar to part of what I do).

As for “structured”, my previous post should dispel that notion as that shoot was anything but. More to come there also, even more free-form.

As for diffraction: the lens doesn’t care what sensor is behind it. The same image is there. A higher sampling density (the D800) is better, and the D800 sensor is another generation ahead also. Anyway, if you have been shooting enjoyably at f/11, then continue to do so with a D800; it’s the same image sampled at a higher density on a D800, which means (as I’ve shown several times in my review), higher quality in a variety of ways, even if the peak resolving power of the sensor is not fully utilized (due to diffraction).

The D3x has one other advantage: greater mass. My experience suggests that a heavier camera can help with lower shutter speed exposures, as can the larger body for bracing the camera, as I discuss in Making Sharp Images.

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